med school vs. CRNA

Specialties CRNA



I'm currently a first year med student who is contemplating a switch into the field of nursing. I want to have more time for myself and my family and feel that nursing is a wonderful career option. Can anyone give me the pros and cons of CRNA schooling and just how competitive is to gain admission??? Thanks so much!!!!!!


9 Posts

hello ariel26,

I understand you are contemplating a switch from medicine into nursing. Well if CRNA is what you are eventually hoping to aspire to practice, I can provide you with some information. I currently have been accepted into a program which starts in the near future so I can tell you a little bit about what some schools look for in their SRNAs. Firstly, CRNA schools in the US are Masters programs which usually require you to have attained your BSN prior to applying into the program. I heard there are some programs in the US that do not specifically require a nursing degree to apply, but am not sure as to which programs they are. Since you have already been accepted into a medical program (congratulations on that accomplishment by the way), I can only infer that you probably already meet the prereqs for a BSN program. Obtaining your BSN will probably take you at least 2 yrs to do, and upon completion, most of the programs require you to have at least one year of ICU experience prior to applying (more experience improves your chances, however). I for one can tell you that being admitted into a CRNA program is VERY competitive. Most of the programs in the country receive 100's of applications each year for spots ranging from 10-25 students per year, on the average. My program looked at things such as GPA, GRE scores, critical care experience, and interview scores. The program itself can take between 24-36 months and is very time consuming to say the least. Since I have yet to start the program I am going by what SRNA's have told me. From what I have been told, a lot of the students in the program do not get to spend that much time with their families because the curriculum is so intense. However, I do think there are a couple of programs in the country that allow their students to attend on a part-time basis. I'm not sure, but I think Pitt is one of those schools. Well I hope I was able to answer some of the questions that you had. Some actual CRNAs would probably be able to describe the actual work aspect of the profession for you. Good luck on whatever you decide to do.


263 Posts

IF YOU ADD THE EXTRA TIME IT WOULD TAKE TO MEET THE REQUIREMENTS TO APPLY FOR CRNA SCHOOL as mentioned in the previous post, you would probably be finishing your residency before you graduate as a crna. If I were in your shoes, and I seriously considered medical school for awhile and just got accepted to a crna program, I would not start over. Instead, I would choose a medical speciality that has a good lifestyle. Also, you would probably be very dissapointed in how you are treated while in under grad. nursing school and the scut work you will be required to do while getting your critical care experience.

I think I agree with MICU RN here. It will take you a lot of time to become a CRNA. I too have pondered med school, my fiance is a med student, but I have decided on the CRNA route. There are medical specialities that have okay hours-- what about family practice or dermatology? It's a tough road ahead no matter what you decide to do, so good luck!


410 Posts

I tend to agree with the sentiments above. However, you need to consider whether you are a nurse or a doc. There is a difference not just in who gets to do what as Tenesma & I debated quite a long time ago.

Brenna's Dad

394 Posts

I would have to agree with all those above. The route to becoming a CRNA is long and difficult.

If I was in your shoes I would stick it out in Med School and choose one of the following: Anesthesiology or Radiology.


796 Posts

I would look at the pros and cons of both routes. Being 22 years old I have often contemplated that although I am an RN maybe I should sit for the MCATS and go to med school. However, during this time I realized that while med school sounds so attractive, what I really enjoy doing (minus the headaches, the scut work), is practice nursing.

Not to mention, while when you add together the years of undergrad, med school, residency....taking into account that the last 8 years you are pretty much not having any sort of life.... med school still is the longer, much more time consuming route. Residency, at least from I have seen involves a heck of a lot of scut work and at least during their ICU rotations, they are working 80-100 hours of week, on call every third night, post call til about 4-7pm, never ever sleep on their oncall nights. There are physically easier rotations and there are harder ones, but just remember after finishing four years of med school you are going to pretty much live in a hospital for four years making the equivalent of the janitors who put in 40 hour work weeks.

Personally, CRNA sounds much more attractive. It is the practice of nursing plus finally having some autonomy, the ability to focus entirely on your one patient for that OR experience, seems to be a great challange, intellectually stimulating, ya get to be the one who intubates, I could go on. Anyhow, as a 22 year old who grade wise could go either way, I personall am going for anethesia. I already have one year of ICU nursing down, but plan to stay for two more. When you add that onto 2.5 years of CRNA school, let's see... I will be 27.5 pretty much 28. Since I still have to take some prereqs and prepare for MCATs, it probably would be another 1-2 yeras before I could even apply, plus eight more years, I'd be a minimum of 33 when I finish. That is after incuring a heck of a lot more debt, not having any life (yes I realize that CRNA school is pretty much 2.5 years of no life...but it is not 8)

You need to decide where you find your niche and really what practice suits you best. Definitely try shadowing both, and not just one of each... if possible. Good luck.


796 Posts

PS More than one doc I have talked to has said that if they could do it over again, they would have been CRNA's......


422 Posts

my opinion is stay where you are. you have already gotten into med school and you are in your first year. if it was a question about which route to go prior to starting then i think you might want to consider nursing. but since you are already on your way to becoming an md then i think you would be better off sticking with it. plus with the new federal law limiting your hours you won't be working 100 hours a week in the hospital anymore.

but if you really are considering leaving medicine then there are programs where you could get your bsn in a year since you already have a bs degree. then it would be 2-3 years in an icu and then on to crna school for pretty much 3 years with certification exams and all. so that is 7 years from now until you would be a crna, IF everything goes exactly as planned. just something to think about.

best of luck in your decision.


45 Posts

Specializes in ICU, ER,Med Surg, Psych, Management,.

I had a simular question posted on 5/18/03 called "Ever considered becoming MDA ? " I questioned going to med school. I'm not in your situation though. I am a nurse who pondered medical school! I think your choice should be based on the career path you would like. It might take a while to become a CRNA, but medical school won't be completed in a blink of an eye either. You do not have to have a nursing degree to become an anesthetist. Many nurse anesthesia programs accept applicants with non nursing degrees. Check out for education requirements. Take a peek at the replies to my post, they really gave me some insight. This is kinda like the blind leading the blind. Good Luck



2 Posts

Thank you all so much for your insight into this topic. You have given me quite a few things to think about!!!


5 Posts

Wanted to let you know that even if you have completed the premed requirements that doesn't automatically mean you've completed requirements for BSN. Usually programs require things like anatomy, physiology, microbiology before you go. Also the accelerated BSN program that I was looking into (Mount St Mary's) have quite a lot of prerequisites like psychology, sociology, nutrition, human anthropology, etc). These are not prerequisites for medical school. It would probably take a good year to complete those.

I'm not sure if you are male or female, but there is a good site called Mommd ( that has information about balancing being a physician and a mom. Some of it applies to dads too!

Good luck.

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